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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » November 3, 2015
Polska ... tastes good!
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Goose Meat in Poland and Abroad
November 3, 2015   
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Meat from geese known as polska gê¶ owsiana (Polish oat goose) is classified as organic food. On most Polish farms, geese are still fed with natural feed, including grass, cereals and grain mixtures.

As a result, Polish goose meat is free from biological and chemical contaminants, and contains 23 percent of protein and less than 4 percent of fat on average. To compare, the fat content of pork is almost 30 percent. Goose fat is also one of the healthiest types of animal fat, helping reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increasing “good” cholesterol (HDL). It is also widely used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

Dietitians and physicians particularly recommend goose meat for those generally in poor health. The meat is rich in vitamins, including vitamins A, B1, B2, D, E and PP, as well as phosphorus, iron and magnesium. Goose meat is safe to eat for people of all ages. It has been considered an aphrodisiac since ancient times because it is thought to boost vitality and possess invigorating properties.

Polish farmers have bred geese for centuries, but the popularity of goose meat peaked in the 17th and 18th centuries when goose meat was usually served as a special treat during holidays and family celebrations—possibly because goose dishes take time and skill to prepare. The meat can easily become too dry and at the same time it needs to spend a long time in the oven. Well-roasted goose meat is juicy, tender and aromatic.

Goose meat used to hold a special place in traditional Polish cuisine. In the 16th century, it was traditionally served at the royal court and King Jan III Sobieski was a great admirer of it. Roasted goose was also a must at the households of Polish noblemen. Goose with apples or red cabbage and smoked goose breasts and patés were staple dishes in traditional Polish cuisine. Other popular recipes included goose cooked with sour cream, dried forest mushrooms and three kinds of groats. Polish consumers also used to relish in goose stews served with various side dishes. Czernina soup, made of goose blood, used to be a prominent dish in Poland for many years.

Consumers in many countries have embraced goose liver as a favorite delicacy. Goose liver tastes best when it is fatty, yellowish and weighs in at around 800 grams. Some of the tastiest dishes made of liver include the national French treat foie gras. Made from the livers of heavily fattened geese, foie gras is one of the most expensive dishes in the world.

Some dietitians say goose fat is as beneficial as the finest olive oils. Meat fried in goose fat smells nice, they say, has an amber tinge and is crunchy on the outside.

Once highly popular in Poland, goose meat gradually became replaced by other kinds of meat. At present, Poland has probably the lowest goose meat consumption rate in Europe, at a mere 20 grams per consumer per year on average. At the same time, Poland is the largest and most renowned producer of goose meat in Europe. It is estimated that Polish consumers eat no more than 700 metric tons of goose meat every year, which means that only 5 or so percent of all geese bred in Poland are consumed domestically, while the rest is exported, mostly to Germany.

Today goose dishes are most commonly associated in Poland with St. Martin’s Day, Nov. 11. In Germany, goose is consumed to mark the end of the autumn harvest season and plays a role similar to that of turkey on Thanksgiving Day in the United States. This somewhat forgotten tradition is now being revived in Poland, in part through campaigns financed by the Poultry Meat Promotion Fund and designed to promote goose meat consumption.
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